The Philippines has a shortage of about 106,000 nurses as health workers seek better opportunities abroad, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.
The DOH wants the country to retain the 7,000 annual deployment cap for new-hire medical professionals abroad.
“We have a shortage or a gap of around 106,000 to fill up positions in our health facilities all over the country, both for public and private (hospitals),” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.
The Philippines also lacks doctors, pharmacists, medical technologists, midwives, physical therapists and dentists, she added.
At present, the DOH has over 2,000 unfilled positions. The figure includes 624 positions for nurses, 1,332 for midwives, and 63 for dentists.
Given the shortage, the DOH wants to maintain the deployment cap—a limit that President Marcos has said he would raise.
The DOH is scheduled to meet with the newly created Department of Migrant Workers and the Department of Labor and Employment about offering incentives to health workers to stay in the country.
Vergeire said the DOH also plans to talk to countries where health workers are deployed on possibly providing perks to the Philippines, such as scholarships or exchange programs.
A group of nurses earlier said that low pay and lack of improvement in working conditions lead health workers to leave the country to find jobs overseas.
Meanwhile, six Metro Manila areas are being monitored due to increasing COVID-19 admissions, Vergeire said.
In a radio interview, Vergeire said that while the hospital utilization rate in the country is below 50 percent, 13 areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) are now at moderate risk for COVID-19.
This means that hospital admissions in these areas are rising due to COVID-19, Vergeire said.
Among the closely monitored cities are Pasig, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Makati, Navotas and Caloocan.
Vergeire said closely monitored are the cities of Pasig, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Makati, Navotas, and Caloocan. While cases are low in Malabon, Navotas, and Caloocan, the DOH has started monitoring their health care utilization because these areas have few hospital beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients.
In its Monday report, the DOH said 790 severe and critical cases were admitted in hospitals due to COVID-19 as of Sept. 25. This was 11 percent of the total COVID-19 admissions.
Of the 17,891 new cases recorded from Sept, 19 to 25, two were tagged as new severe or critical cases.
The DOH said this was only 0.01 percent of the new cases reported for the week.
In other developments:
• The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPI) said the number of people positive for COVID-19 may be twice more than what is reported. The group’s president, Dr. Jose de Grano, said in a TV interview that those who test positive using self-administered antigen test kits are not included in the official reports released by the DOH.
• The DOH reminded the public to follow health protocols in order to avoid spreading COVID-19 infections during Christmas gatherings and celebrations. Vergeire reminded the public that face masks should be worn at all times especially in crowded areas and if there is a risk of close interaction.